An historic gold rush era town close to Queenstown, Arrowtown is worth visiting for it’s heritage, and in April / May is one of the best places in New Zealand to see autumn colours.
Dating from the 1860s, the town’s population peaked at 7,000 during the short lived boom years, before dropping down to only 200 in the 1960s. Since then it has become an increasingly popular place to live, and around 2,500 people now call it home. Boom times have returned with tourism, illustrated by the three public toilets within 500m of each other, and huge car park down by the river.
By the river is where the colours come alive during autumn, with spectacular shades of yellow and red continuing up Sawpit Gully.
It’s lush green for most of the rest of the year.
Also by the river are the restored remains of the Chinese settlement, one of the often overlooked parts of the story of early New Zealand. The gold rush brought significant numbers of Chinese here, though they were often treated poorly, and the majority returned home after the gold dried up and strict immigration restrictions were introduced.
Arrowtown’s main street is filled with heritage buildings repurposed to shops, cafes and boutique accommodation.
At the end is the Lakes District Museum, a fascinating places to spend an hour or so learning the history of the town and the region.